President-elect William Ruto’s incoming administration has at least 30 plum appointments to make at State-owned firms whose current chief executives are either serving in acting capacities or are at the tail end of their terms.
An analysis by the Business Daily shows that nearly 30 State-owned firms do not have substantive CEOs, setting the stage for jostling by political and business operatives eyeing positions in the new administration.
The top jobs at Kenya Power, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Kenya Electricity Transmission Company represent a low-hanging fruit for the Cabinet Secretaries set to be appointed by Dr Ruto.
The terms of CEOs at the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and the National Social Securities Fund (NSSF) are also coming to an end this year, presenting opportunities for the new administration to replace them with regime loyalists.
NSSF boss Anthony Omerikwa’s term ends in November this year as is that of NTSA’s George Njao and KNH’s Dr Evanson Kamuri.
Administration changes have in the past triggered shake-ups in parastatals as the President and ministers move to assert their influence over government affairs, reward loyalists or honour promises in pre-election pacts.
In 2003, then President Mwai Kibaki made radical changes in the boards and C-suites of State-owned firms after ending Daniel arap Moi’s 24-year rule.
President Uhuru Kenyatta also made changes in the leadership of the parastatals after taking office in 2013.
Kenya has 247 parastatals, 46 of which operate as commercial companies seeking profits and 201 as social corporations.
Dr Ruto, the winner of the 2022 presidential election, however, faces a legal hitch in replacing a majority of parastatal CEOs whose contracts run up to 2024.
Besides the contract hitch, the outgoing administration has in recent weeks increased the pace of appointments to parastatal boards, tapping nearly 200 directors in weeks.
This has limited the number of positions immediately available to the new President and his ministers to reward loyalists.
Most of the appointments run for three years, meaning the new President will have to work with Mr Kenyatta’s appointees.
The new administration will also have a challenge replacing some CEOs whose roles are currently contested in court or are subject to internal reviews such as the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (Rerec) where peter Mbugua has been suspended over misappropriation of funds.
Nancy Chelangat Cheruiyot is challenging the appointment of Jane Ndungu at the Commodities Fund while the trade ministry has gone to court to stop the appointment of Ezekiel Oduwor at the Export Processing Zone Authority, currently headed by Hussein Adan Mohamed in an acting capacity.
CEOs of cash-rich parastatals such as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) and the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA have contracts running to 2024.
The terms of chief executives of the Geothermal Development Corporation (GDC), Kenya Railways Corporation, the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), Kenya Pipeline Corporation and KenGen will expire next year.
The tenure of Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor Patrick Njoroge will also come to an end in June next year.
The CBK governor is appointed by the President through a transparent and competitive process and with the approval of Parliament for a four-year renewable term.
NHIF boss Peter Kamunyo’s term ends in April 2023. In the energy sector, Kenya Pipeline Corporation boss Macharia Irungu’s tenure is up for review in January next year followed by that of GDC’s Jared Othieno in April.
Kengen’s Rebecca Miano’s term concludes in August of next year while Mr Mbugua’s term at Rerec comes up for review at the end of the year.
Roads and transport agency jobs have been especially attractive over the decade of the Jubilee administration’s splurge on infrastructure.
The Kenya Railways Corporation’s top job currently occupied by Philip Mainga comes up for review in February next year while Silas Kinoti’s role at Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) will be reviewed in June.
KeNHA’s and KAA’s top roles held by Kungu Ndungu and Alex Gitari will be reviewed in 2024.
The ethnic composition of appointments under the new administration will come under scrutiny.
An earlier report showed that Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities dominated top jobs in government, embassies and chief executive positions in parastatals.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) said in the report that Kikuyus and Kalenjins account for 29 percent and 11 percent of the 417 top jobs in government, including directors and principal secretaries respectively.
Kikuyus accounted for 27 percent of Kenya’s 66 envoys, with Kalenjins taking 14 percent amid a push to ensure that offices funded by taxpayers have the face of Kenya, with all communities given a chance to serve.
On CEOs of parastatals, Kikuyus took 20 percent of the positions followed by Kalenjins at 19.4 percent, Luo (14.4 percent) and Luhya (10 percent).
The Constitution introduced the ethnic representation requirements to check a historical trend where the tribesmen of those in power were favoured during recruitment.
Ethnic groups whose job representation surpasses their corresponding national population proportion are considered to be over-represented.
The Kikuyu and Kalenjin dominance mirrors the two tribes’ presence at the highest office in Kenya since independence.
President Kenyatta succeeded Mr Kibaki, both Kikuyus. President Daniel Arap Moi, who ruled for 24 years before Mr Kibaki, was a Kalenjin. Deputy President Ruto is also a Kalenjin.